Word of the Week: Prurient

I’ve seen this word around but don’t think I’ve ever used it before.  It’s a good word, especially for someone like me hoping to get somewhere in the ERom world.  And I do.  The more I read and write in various Erotic Romance genres the happier I become, and the more driven to do more and to do it better.

I’ve been writing a long time and have had some mainstream fiction published, which was very satisfying, but it’s very difficult to get short stories published when you’re as far left of center as I am.  (To paraphrase Joey Tribbiani, the middle of the road is a dot to me.)  In fact, one prestigious New York literary agent came out and said so after she read a full novel manuscript she’d requested, she said it was too far left of center to be marketable.

That rejection felt like a kick in the stomach, even though I knew the story was a little out there for NY.  So I took a little time to cool down and stopped submitting that manuscript.  (I almost just pulled it up to take a look, but am not feeling brave enough to peek at a years-old story just now.  :P).

Fast forward a few years and I found myself with time on my hands and a maudlin attitude that just didn’t feel right.  So I decided to cure two ailments in one stroke (or many strokes, as the case may be) by writing happy stories.  Being no stranger to sex scenes in general I started with a familiar couple and went for it.  This story turned out to be “Comfort and Joy” and will be my first published work with Etopia Press.  My first published ERom story.  I’m much happier these days.

And I owe it all to my prurience.  Don’t waste my time with waves crashing on the beach or a bedroom door softly clicking shut—I want to see what happens when there’s nothing for a character to hide behind, not even clothes.  Especially not clothes.  Yes, I’m shamelessly prurient, which is only to say that I’m just as horny as anyone else but have a slightly larger vocabulary than some.   I’m in good company.

The usual info on definitions and origins follows, thanks to Dictionary.com (but confirmed by yours truly via multiple sources just because that’s how I am).

May all of your restless desires be fulfilled.  Have a lovely week!

prurient; adjective

1. having, inclined to have, or characterized by lascivious or lustful thoughts, desires, etc.

2. causing lasciviousness or lust.

3. having a restless desire or longing.

Origin:
1630–40;  < Latin prūrient-  (stem of prūriēns ), present participle of prūrīre  to itch

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Word of the Week: prodigy


When I was a kid I worried I wasn’t right in the head.  People who didn’t exist would walk in, flop down onto a beanbag chair and start telling me their stories.  By my early twenties the party room in my head had morphed into a kitchen and the characters pulled up a chair and sat at the table to talk.  I’ve come to embrace my own brand of insanity, thanks in part to one character who wouldn’t leave.  Thanks to Sunny and her family, I’ve reached a few of my writing goals since my first publication in the late 90s.

Two years ago, before I worked up the courage to submit any ERom, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time and ended up with a nice (and hot) story about a man in his late twenties re-connecting with his family.  The man is one of Sunny’s sons, and before that I wasn’t sure what had happened to him.  For years, just about all I knew was that he went away to college in Chicago and basically dropped off the family radar.  Once in a while someone would mention him, so I knew he stayed on the music track and was with a pianist named Charlie.  I thought Charlie was a woman, but it turns out Charlie is a beautiful blond boy with blue eyes and mad piano skills.

By the time I reached the end of that NaNo draft I realized I didn’t know Charlie well enough to write that story.  He felt like a cardboard character, but I could see glimmers of a more interesting guy in there somewhere.  Of course there’s only one way to remedy something like that—through more writing.  After a few months of peeling that onion I had a draft I called The Prequel, and a much clearer picture of the early years of one of my favorite couples (who happen to be the main characters in my Christmas story that’s forthcoming from Etopia Press):  Sam and Charlie.

Sometime during the writing of The Prequel I checked into lesser-known meanings for the word prodigy and was surprised to find it also means “something abnormal or monstrous”.  I suppose it’s possible for a gifted child to seem scary—just like some current technology would probably freak-out someone living in the Middle Ages.  Depending on his mood, Charlie would either agree with this assessment or launch into a scathing soliloquy aimed at anyone daring to say a gift (or a child) could be monstrous.

Here’s the usual info about this week’s word.  I hope you all have an extraordinary week!

Prodigy [prod-i-jee]

noun, plural prod·i·gies.

1. a person, especially a child or young person, having extraordinary talent or ability: a musical prodigy.

2. a marvelous example (usually followed by of ).

3. something wonderful or marvelous; a wonder.

4. something abnormal or monstrous.

5. Archaic . something extraordinary regarded as of prophetic significance.

Origin:
1425–75; late Middle English prodig < Latin prōdigium  prophetic sign

Word of the Week: mutt

Today as I left class I saw this old, and most likely long-retired, fire truck sitting in a field on the edge of campus and even though I was thinking about homework and errands, one of my characters popped up and really wanted to go check it out.  So, since I love my guys, I let him.

Sam White is one of the main characters in my Christmas story, “Comfort and Joy”, that’s forthcoming from Etopia Press.  I’ve known him and his family for a long time (in fact, my first two published short stories were about his mom).  Sam’s a professional musician but if he didn’t have music he’d want to fight fires and rescue folks from burning buildings.  Over the years I’ve written a few of his stories so I know he calls himself a mutt even though he doesn’t look like one.  He’s a mix ancestry-wise:  French Canadian, Mohawk, German and Dutch on his dad’s side and Irish and Swedish on his mom’s, but he has his dad’s brown skin and shiny black hair.

I’m always curious about the lesser-known meanings of commonly-used words, and the etymology of everything, so I looked up “mutt” and found something I didn’t already know:  it’s short for muttonhead.

mutt

noun. Slang.

1.  a dog, especially a mongrel.

2.  a stupid or foolish person; simpleton.

1901, “stupid or foolish person,” probably a shortening of muttonhead (1803); meaning “a dog,” especially “a mongrel” is from 1904, originally simply a term of contempt.

I seriously doubt Sam would use the word to describe himself if he knew this!  As he once told his mom, he’s never been accused of placing too low a value on himself.   A mongrel is one thing but foolish (even if sometimes it’s all too applicable) just wouldn’t fly.

Uh-oh, now I hear Charlie snickering in my head.

Word of the Week – Sea change

Early in September I took a day trip to Cannon Beach.  It’s one of my favorite places on the planet, mainly due to the amazingly soft sand and the fact that you can literally walk half the day away if you want to.  Also, there’s Haystack Rock, to which I have an unnatural attachment.  At least, anyone looking at any of my photo albums for the past twenty years could easily reach this conclusion.  The picture at the top of this post wasn’t taken this year, because I forgot my camera.  I was on Highway 101 before I realized this, so turning around to get it wasn’t an option.  Turns out, forgetting my camera was a good move.

Over the years a ritual has evolved for my solo day trips to Cannon Beach – which, btw, is my favorite way to go there.  One component is Second Breakfast at the Pig N Pancake.  Instead of lamenting my lack of camera or reading on my nook I decided to substitute words for pictures.  I sat in a booth for about an hour as I drank terribly bitter coffee and ate enough to choke a Hobbit, and basically wrote an essay in longhand.  Part of that is here, now, but most of it’s not.

After Second Breakfast I did a little shopping between there and the nearest access point, and then hit the beach.  It was a mild day, by which I mean the sun wasn’t beating down trying to fry the skin from my bones (which, admittedly, probably wouldn’t take much).  It looked something like this.

As soon as I reached the packed sand that’s so wonderful for taking epic walks on, I started hearing a new voice in my head.  I walked and listened for a while, and then I sat down and started to write.  A wonderful new guy named Neil told me his story of heartbreak at the loss of his long-term partner, and the sea change he experienced during a solo trip to the beach.  I don’t think I’d ever used the word before, either in conversation or in fiction, so when it came out of my purple pen while I sat on the beach with sand trickling into my shorts I got really excited.  My best stories come from strong characters who just pop up and start talking, the ones whose stories seem to take on a life of their own.

Anyway, back to the word.  Neil experiences a sea change in his attitude toward life, love, sex, and himself, which is appropriate, considering where he was at the time.  Now I have another HEA to polish, and another reason to love that rock.

sea change

noun

1. a striking change, as in appearance, often for the better.

2. any major transformation or alteration.

3. a transformation brought about by the sea.

Origin: Shakespeare, in Ariel’s song “Full Fathom Five” in The Tempest (1611)

 

Word of the Week: Loser

The word loser evokes strong feelings, especially for anyone who has had it thrown at them with malice. I’ve had it fired at me with the force of a crossbow, but I’ve also had it lovingly applied to the center of my forehead as though it were a shiny gold star.

To me, loser is almost a reclaimed word. When I was by turns struggling to, and not to, come of age in the early 1980s a lot of words that have since been reclaimed weren’t always meant in a good way: girl, chick, bitch, geek, nerd, queer. And these are only the ones I have personal experience with reclaiming. Sometimes losing something is the best way to go. One can “lose” a cheating spouse, or you can lose the equivalent of a person in body weight.

One of my current WIPs is about a man, Ross, who loses 98 pounds on Weight Watchers and becomes a Lifetime Member. He thinks that’s the end of a journey, but of course that can’t be true or there wouldn’t be much of a story. Ross learns a lot about the people in his life as a result of his weight loss, and about himself and what he’s willing to do (or at least try :)) for love, friendship, and a chance at happiness. The story began with an image of him reluctantly going to the front of the meeting to get his Lifer swag and celebrate his accomplishment, his work-out buddy whistling like a Teamster, in her hand a boquet of balloons shaped like donuts and cupcakes. His leader is modeled after one of my Weight Watchers leaders, who started every meeting with the greeting: “Hello, losers!” She’d lost over 100 pounds herself and was a great influence on my own weight loss and self-image, not to mention this story.

So far, hanging out with Ross and his buddy Janet has been a lot of fun, with the added bonus of helping me recommit to eating healthy. Mostly. Guilt can be helpful. In 2003 I became a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers, but I haven’t kept it all off. Sadly, hours at the keyboard don’t count as cardio, but my fingers and parts of my brain are pretty buff! Strong enough to grapple with words like Loser.

For all my fellow word nerds, the origins of Loser:

Origin:

1300–50; Middle English losere,  destroyer.

Word of the Week: demeurer lourche

Once in a while, it seems as though the Universe is telling me to pay attention to something. Twice today I’ve run into the word “lurch”, so I decided to do a little research. I’d always wondered how we started using the phrase “left in the lurch”, and the latest World Wide Words newsletter gave a brilliant etymology – as always: it’s from a sixteenth century French dice game.

But what really grabbed me was the phrase meaning “to lose embarrassingly badly”: demeurer lourche.

It’s possible I’ll write a Romance where someone is left in the lurch, but before then I may have someone use this phrase. It would say a lot about a character if s/he lamented his run of demeurer lourche. I may not know this character yet, but I’d love to use this without forcing it on anyone.

Per Dictionary.com, here’s the origin of the word that started this: lurch.

1525–35; < Middle French lourche a game, noun use of lourche (adj.) discomfited < Germanic; compare Middle High German lurz left (hand), Old English belyrtan to deceive

I hope none of you out there are left in the lurch or in any way discomfited over this holiday weekend.

Word of the Week: Busk

Busk

He was the cellist in a string quartet that busked at Christmas.

This is an awesome word, for more than one reason. The first, is that the most common definition is to entertain by dancing, singing, or reciting on the street or in a public place, usually for money.  I have a major soft spot for musicians, especially those who share at least part of their gift freely with those who couldn’t afford to buy a CD or download a song or go to a concert.

I found this word through research for my Christmas Story. I asked a musical question and some wonderful musicians gave me an overabundance of fabulous ideas. One of their responses included this word. I’d heard it before but didn’t really pay attention to it. My current project is an M/M Romance, so I immediately saw my two main characters, dressed in appropriate holiday finery, playing carols on a streetcorner against a backdrop of decorated shop windows and snow flurries. Sadly, they don’t get to do this; maybe in another story.

When I popped into Kiddo’s room to share my shiny new word she looked at me as though I’d just discovered the word ‘sing’, or ‘musician’. Which cracked me up, and then made me think. Too often if I’m reading a very engaging story and the author includes enough context, I won’t delve deeper into a new word but just keep reading. As a reader, that’s great because I love being so immersed in a story that the rest of the world falls away. As a writer, I can only hope to inspire that feeling in a reader. I’ll never be another Faulkner (whom I’ve read, but only with a dictionary nearby), but if I can make the world fall away for a few thousand words then it doesn’t matter whether I end up writing my own version of the Great American Novel.

Another lovely thing about this word is that it’s also a part of a corset. Per Wikipedia: “A busk (also spelled busque) is the rigid element of a corset placed at the centre front . . . intended to keep the front of the corset straight and upright.”

A Google search for this word is very pretty indeed.

Origin per dictionary.com (for all the word geeks out there):

1850–55; perhaps, if earlier sense was “to make a living by entertaining,” < Polari < Italian buscare to procure, get, gain < Spanish buscar to look for, seek (of disputed orig.)